New York City firetruck from 9/11 will lead Advance Christmas parade

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 5, 2013

A poignant piece of American history is coming to Davie County to lead the Advance Fire Department’s annual Christmas Parade on December 14.

Rescue 5, a heavy truck that was once the pride of the Fire Department of New York will be the grand marshal of the parade. The theme this year is “Remembrance and Honor.”

Rescue 5, heavily damaged in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, was decommissioned and has been restored and now tours the country reminding Americans of what was lost that day and what was saved.

Several members of its crew were among the 343 New York City firefighters who died that day trying to rescue the many thousands trapped in the twin towers which collapsed after Islamic terrorists steered hijacked airliners into them.

Sixty policemen and eight EMTs died in those rescue attempts as well. The death toll reached almost 3,000 including those on four hijacked airliners and those killed at the attack on the Pentagon in Washington, DC.

But most of those many thousands of terrified people were successfully evacuated from the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.

Rescue 5 is coming to Advance from Charlotte and will leave for Little Rock, AR, after its visit.

The Advance Fire Department will be the host and the lead agency and will coordinate the events. Rescue 5 is expected to visit schools and be on display throughout Davie County and Clemmons. A schedule will be announced as soon as it is completed.

Nat Oliver of Advance is project chairman for the visit.

His connections to 9-11 are deep and very personal. His wife, Kathleen, lost her cousin, Patrick O’Keefe, who died with 17 other members of Rescue 1 when the towers collapsed. Oliveri’s cousin, Douglas Spano, responded with his fire company. He survived but still finds it difficult to talk about that day.

Oliveri’s son, Dmitriy, is a junior firefighter with the Advance Fire Department.

Oliveri said Rescue 5 was restored and its tours are conducted by firefighters who volunteer for the duty.

“The Remembrance Rescue Project had no paid employees. It’s all done by volunteers,” Oliveri said. “Any money we raise goes directly for fuel and maintenance.”

Rescue 5 is based outside Chicago, IL and tours the Eastern section of the country. Rescue 4, which was also restored, is based in Texas and tours the West.

Chief Rodney Miller invited all active and retired Davie County firefighters, law enforcement officers, EMTs and other public safety personnel to join the Christmas Parade and march behind Rescue 5

“If your uniform still fits, wear it,” he said, “If not, come and parade with us anyway.”

Oliveri added, “The goal of the Remembrance Rescue Project is to educate, honor and remember. What better time to do that than during the Christmas holiday season?”

Ronnie Robertson, director of Davie County’s Communications (911) Center, will be putting together the schedule for Rescue 5’s visit.